Page 4083 - Week 13 - Thursday, 31 October 2013
Amendment No 1 seeks to substitute text in clause 6. In Mr Hanson’s amendment, there was a broader threshold for deciding on whether or not to undertake an investigation. This amendment seeks to preserve this threshold for the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker as the decision maker as our further amendments have removed from the commission the role of deciding whether to conduct an investigation or not. We certainly did not want to throw out the threshold just because we were moving the decision from the commissioner.
I do note that we have also picked up the text that is in addition to the very first version of this motion, where it talks about a complaint not being frivolous, vexatious or only for political advantage. I think there has been some concern amongst members that this mechanism could be used inappropriately and for political purposes and I think this is good text that has been added by other members to be very explicit about our expectations but also in providing the Speaker with a mechanism for ruling out complaints so that they do not go too far and that there is a discouragement to that kind of behaviour.
The next one, amendment No 2, takes out some of the more complex processes that did get added through discussion where MLAs receive complaints about the Speaker. It simplifies where the formal decision-making process sits and whether to proceed with complaints. My view is that it is unnecessary to have MLAs also having to apply a formal threshold test and that the role should sit clearly with the Deputy Speaker or the Speaker, depending on whom the complaint is in regard to.
I think it is appropriate that an MLA can make their own decision about whether to take a complaint further but it is overly complex to apply a formal threshold test for each MLA; rather, we should focus that decision with the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker who, of course, then has the formal support of the Office of the Legislative Assembly in providing advice on that matter. As such, our amendments remove that sort of additional layer. Subsequently, amendments 3 and 4 omit clauses 8 and 9 which flow from that.
On amendment No 5, it is the agreed view that if the Deputy Speaker receives a complaint about the Speaker pursuant to clause 7 and the Deputy Speaker believes on reasonable grounds that there is sufficient evidence to justify the investigation and it is not frivolous, vexatious or for political advantage, the Deputy Speaker may refer the complaint to the commissioner.
The amendment to clause 10 of Mr Hanson’s amendment merely aligns the threshold test about the Speaker by including the additional threshold of not frivolous, vexatious or for political advantage.
Finally, amendment No 6, the changes to Mr Hanson’s amendment to clause 11, removes the reference to what the commissioner does when refusing to undertake an investigation, and this flows from earlier amendments that I have spoken to.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.10): I indicate at the outset that the opposition will be supporting Mr Rattenbury’s amendments to my proposed amendment. These were, as the Chief Minster and Mr Rattenbury have indicated,